In an era before this blog existed, I lived in Red Hook, New York. Not the Brooklyn Red Hook but the country Red Hook. I lived there for about two years after I graduated from college because my boyfriend at the time still had some schooling to finish up and I loved him and wanted to stick around. I also had no idea what to do with my life, so living in the country and working at a sheep farm seemed like a pretty good plan. Of course, many of my closest friends went on to greater things after graduation. Is that true? Not really. Sort of. A lot of people actually stuck around - K., C., P., and A.&R. among them. In any case, I soon found that while I lived close to campus, I didn't really want to spend time there...but I did still want to have friends and drink with them. So I created what became a pretty regular event for at least a year: Adult Macaroni and Cheese Night. No, this wasn't a night with penis-shaped pasta or porn. My thought was that it was 'adult' because I used at least four or five different kind of fancy cheeses in this mac n' cheese (sometimes bacon), and there would always be booze. This event also solidified some acquaintances into deeper friendships. K., for example, is someone I had always known, but didn't really totally befriend til he started being a regular. E. often arrived early and helped me grate the cheese while we watched rerun episodes of Buffy on my pirated cable. At its prime I think I had about 6-10 people showing up to my house on Mondays. We always made our way through two Dutch ovens of the pasta (I soon began making one of mac n cheese and one of baked ziti) and at least one bottle of Smirnoff vodka. Often enough someone would bring beer to boot. It was a lot of fun, those times. Maybe a little too saturated in fat and alcohol...but we were young. In any case, once I left that location and time in my life, I didn't really continue making what at least one person has called 'the best macaroni and cheese of my life.' It fell by the wayside in grad school, where instead wine nights usually featured copious amounts of cheese and other types of snacks. All to say that a few years back I did make the dish for C. and J. And when it was decided that my father and I would join them for Christmas this year, young J. (who recently got into her top college choice!) requested that for one of our meals I create the dish that I had made once before for them 'lo so many years ago. And that I did do on Friday night.
Paired with a helping of broccoli to make us all feel better (Dad had arrived in the later afternoon).
I'd say I hadn't completely lost my touch, and it certainly made me think about those early aughts in Red Hook and the many folks whom I hung out with then, and still hang out with now...and those I don't. The whole bunch of them were in my mind. This was, of course, a much more subdued mac n' cheese occasion, but we were certainly all adults. In addition to her college success, J. also turned 18 the day before. It's weird that I remember her being born and being a wee one and now she's, like, a fully formed person.